In the height of the pandemic on the Northern Beaches, 39-year-old local Megan Guy converted her Brookvale Jujitsu Academy into a pop-up vax clinic. As the head of nursing at a vaccination and respiratory clinic, it was something she was well qualified to do. SJJA Brookvale hosted a free pop-up Pfizer clinic in early October at a time when accessing the vaccine was still a little tricky and convoluted. It was a literal life saver for many on the Beaches.
So who is this woman who runs two martial arts centres (soon a third around Frenchs Forest) and heads up nursing for four clinics in ‘her spare time’?
We will start her story in Ireland, where Megan was living when, at aged 25 and 28 weeks pregnant, her partner confessed he no longer loved her and she should go back to Australia to raise their child…
“I was totally blindsided,” Megan recalls.
Megan accepted the news and packed up her life to move back to Australia to give birth to her son Cillian closer to family.
“I did what I had to do to make my son’s life happy.” The former couple salvaged a friendship and she is now ‘Aunty Megan’ to his three kids and friends with his wife. Megan always wanted Cillian’s father to be in his life. “Looking back on it now, we are better as friends and co-parents.”
The death of her father and a difficult period in her teen years have been instrumental in shaping who she is today, Megan says. She likes to set things right and fix systems that aren’t working.
Megan is now specialised in oncology nursing; she’s also a pragmatist who owns three businesses: two Jiu Jitsu academies SJJA Narrabeen and Brookvale, and a specialist nursing care clinic where she does cosmetic injections, clinic trials and vaccinations.
She joined the frontline in vaccinating Sydney during the recent pandemic wave and worked with the Federal health department to set up a respiratory assessment and vaccination centre.
“We just put on our PPE and started testing. We would see people when their ordinary GP didn’t want to see them. We’ve tested over 50 thousand people. We didn’t pick up many cases of Covid19 but we did pick up three cases of lung cancer which would have most likely gone undiagnosed and many kids with pneumonia,” she recalls.
The hardest moment of Megan’s life was watching her father die. She spent four days at his bedside. She didn’t sleep for three of them.
“I literally just kept watch. It was one of those awful situations where we just had to let time play its role.”
Megan’s dad fell over in a shopping centre and she is certain that if his care had been better managed he would have never gone into organ failure. He had already had a kidney transplant because he suffered from the automimmune disease- Lupus. While in hospital Megan says the state of his kidneys was never monitored. His bloods and kidneys started to play up and then he tanked.
“The nurses hadn’t noticed that his drip had become dislodged and there was a litre of saline on the floor which was supposed to be going to his body.”
The experience of watching her father die due to what she saw as bad systems, practices and policy is what gave Megan the inspiration to fuel her nursing career. “He spent days in pain with me literally having to throw myself on the floor begging for them to treat him.” Megan devotes a big part of her life to helping people. It’s become a passion borne from heartache and personal experience.
Coincidently, Megan was named after a nurse; it means ‘Mega, strong and great’. It would appear that it is a well-fitting name – an aptronym – for all that Megan has overcome and achieved in her life.